Darnell Washington reflects on his first game with the Steelers
The 2023 NFL Draft class for the Pittsburgh Steelers has been highly touted from media members both locally and nationally. As most would assume, the fan base has followed suit and are all-in on their newest class of players.
Of all those who could play a big role with the team in 2023 would be 3rd Round pick, Darnell Washington. Washington, who has been named Mount Washington by the fan base, has been forced to get acclimated to the professional level in a hurry.
That acclimation period was expedited last Friday when the Steelers beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27-17 in Week 1 of the NFL Preseason. What was his first professional experience like? Well, it felt like it had been a while since he got on the gridiron and competed.
“For me it had kind of been a minute, at least that’s what it felt like,” Washington told the Steelers official website. “I felt like I was prepared with this team getting me ready. There was excitement. I did some good things. I did some things I could clean up and some I will clean up.”
After his first professional contest, was there anything Washington felt he could improve upon?
“Pad level, as well, because I’m so tall,” he said was something he could clean up.
A pretty cool moment for Washington was him being on the field when teammate Anthony McFarland Jr. broke off a touchdown run. A touchdown run which started with Washington’s down blocking to allow McFarland to get the edge.
“He just read the field and then did whatever he does,” Washington said of McFarland’s cutback effort. “I was excited for him.
“Just to be in on that play when someone scored a touchdown, I kinda got hyped up.”
In case you forget the play, you can check it out in the video below, you can see Washington as the in-line tight end who is eventually covered up by both Zach Gentry and the wide receiver in motion.
I don’t think any NFL team loves the Duo run play more than the Pittsburgh Steelers. Double teams inside, wide receivers blocking safeties in the box and the running back going 1v1 with a corner. Thing of beauty…@SteelCNetwork pic.twitter.com/b841gGH7lB
— Kevin Smith (@KTSmithFFSN) August 12, 2023
While he played at Georgia, back-to-back National Champions, playing in his first NFL game was certainly something to remember for the newcomer.
“That was my first NFL game,” he pointed out. “I never played on a stage that big. I just feel like I have to get more comfortable at it and really just go out and play ball.”
What was the biggest difference between those games in the SEC compared to those in the NFL?
“Going against pros,” Washington said. “In college not everyone gets a shot at this level. I’m at this level now. It is different.”
If Washington is just getting his feet wet, you can imagine what he will be capable of doing once he is fully submerged in NFL waters. In fact, once the Steelers and Matt Canada decide to use Washington to maximize mismatches, he could be a nightmare for defensive coordinators around the league.
Be sure to stay tuned to SCN or the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare to play the Buffalo Bills in Week 2 of the NFL Preseason.